Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 6 April 2022

April 6th, 2022


C.W. McCall (1928-2022)

William Dale Fries Jr. (pronounced “freeze”), 93, an advertising executive who became C.W. McCall, died April 1 at his home in Ouray, Colo. He had announced in February that he was in home hospice for cancer. The Washington Post reports he was born Billie Dale Fries on November 15, 1928, in Audubon, Iowa. His parents played musical instruments, and he wanted to be a classical musician. He played the clarinet while at the University of Iowa and later studied art and film production. He joined the Bozell & Jacobs advertising agency in 1961 and became creative director and vice president. When asked to devise an advertising campaign for Old Home bread, he created the characters of trucker C.W. McCall and a waitress named Mavis at the Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe. As recording artist C.W. McCall, he had hits with “Convoy,” “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Café,” and “Wolf Creek Pass.”  He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Rena Bonnema Fries, three children, and their children.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 March 2022

March 23rd, 2022


The first time I saw Reba McEntire in concert was in her early cowgirl days, in Oklahoma in the late 1970s. A decade later, when she gave a concert in Virginia, she had gone uptown. Her fancy gowns and choreographed movements made it appear she’d practiced posing on a certain spot of the stage at a certain time. We’ve both traveled a lot of miles since then. I was happy that she came to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls this January. She told the crowd she’d been waiting two years to do this show, which was the beginning of the tour. They’d worked it up in 2019, and it had been postponed three times due to the pandemic.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter –9 March 2022

March 9th, 2022


After reading an article where Scotty McCreery said, “Little Scotty used to sit on the end of his bed with a guitar playing three wooden crosses, forever and ever amen, 1982, diggin’ up bones and so many other Randy Travis songs till 2 in the morning,” I knew I wanted to talk to him. When we connected, he told me he grew up as a kid from North Carolina who loved country music. “That’s all my mom was ever playing in the house was that good ol’ country music,” he said. Scotty, 28, is from Garner, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh. He won the 10th season of American Idol, at age 17, in 2011.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 23 February 2022

February 23rd, 2022


When I typed “girl with the blue fiddle” into an internet search engine, it brought up Jana Jae. She had told me in our recent phone conversation how she acquired that title. First, a bit about her background. Born in 1943, Jana started playing violin at age two. Her parents attended New York City’s Juilliard School, a performing arts conservatory with an acceptance rate of eight percent. “I was their first child,” she says, “and they couldn’t wait to get me started. At age five, I played Hungarian Dance # 5 on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 10 February 2022

February 9th, 2022


It’s been almost eight years since I spotlighted Gene Watson in my newsletter (https://dianediekman.com/dianes-country-music-newsletter-2-july-2014). When I arranged a phone interview recently, I asked about his health, as he had cancelled his November show in Sisseton due to illness. “All the illnesses I’ve been through finally culminated in double pneumonia, and I’m trying to get over that,” he told me. He takes a stool onstage so he can sit down and catch his breath between songs. “But we’re doing it,” he says, “and we’ve been playing sell-out houses and the jobs just keep coming in.”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 26 January 2022

January 26th, 2022


When David Frizzell called from Nashville for our scheduled interview, and I told him one of my newsletter readers likes Barnyard Christmas, he said, “That was one of my first children’s albums. I have another one, but I’ve got to record it. I’ll try to do that if we ever get out of this snow. It’s like a foot or two of it out there, and it’s still snowing.”

Barnyard Christmas is about the birth of Christ, told by the animals that were there. The upcoming album is about Sherlock Hound and his deputy, Walrus. Read the rest of this entry »

Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 12 January 2022

January 12th, 2022


Erin Enderlin made her first trip to Nashville at age 16, when she attended Fan Fair in 1998. She carried a backpack containing a Trapper Keeper full of songs she’d written. “Just in case, y’know, somebody needed a song,” she explains. “I carried it all over the fairgrounds with me.”

She told me that story when I called her last week. I’d been so impressed with seeing her at the Bill Anderson songwriter session at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that I wanted to introduce her to my Spotlight readers who hadn’t heard much about her.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 29 December 2021

December 29th, 2021


After missing the opportunity to meet Bobby Tomberlin during our Nashville trip, I requested a phone conversation–and found the songwriter relaxing in his hometown of Luverne, Alabama, during Christmas break.

My first question was about the song Jeannie Seely recently recorded, “If You Could Call It That,” an unfinished Dottie West song that Bobby Tomberlin and Steve Wariner completed. I asked, “How do you go about finishing somebody’s song?”

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 15 December 2021

December 15th, 2021


Our four days in Nashville went by way too fast. I’m so glad I accepted Bill Anderson’s invitation to attend the opening of the Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Perry Steilow and I flew out of Sioux Falls on Wednesday morning. A United B737-800 took us from Chicago to Nashville. At one point, we were above 37,000 feet and traveling 599 miles an hour. It’s hard to fathom being seven miles up in the air and moving that fast. It was a precursor of the amazing experiences awaiting us in Nashville.

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Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 1 December 2021

December 1st, 2021


“We’re Country and Proud of It.” That’s the theme of Al Shade, 94, who has been performing and promoting country music in Pennsylvania for seven decades. He is the oldest entertainer to appear at any county fair in the state of Pennsylvania. He still performs annually at the Lebanon County Fair. “I’ve been on radio for 70 years,” he told me when I called him for an interview. He currently records three one-hour shows per week in his basement studio, to be played on Radio AM 1510. He had been doing 70 shows a year at assisted living centers until COVID hit.

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